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China pressuring governments to deport citizens – HRW

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is raising the alarm about what it calls a developing alarming trend – Chinese authorities forcing governments around the world to do its dirty work.

According to the HRW, Beijing has pressured Armenia, Cambodia and Kenya to deport Taiwanese citizens to mainland China.

What is concerning, says HRW, is that the individuals deported have been given no chance of contesting their deportations in court before being removed.

China says those deported are suspected of fraud committed on the mainland, but were given no opportunity to seek legal assistance.

Beijing says more than 500 people they regard as corrupt “economic fugitives” had been returned to the mainland by September, bringing the two-year total of the “Sky Net” campaign to nearly 2,000.

HRW says it is unclear whether any of the deportees had access to family or lawyers back home, or how many had been brought to trial.

In July 2016, Taiwan protested when China deported five of its nationals from Kenya back to mainland China. It was the second time in a few months that Beijing had done so, angering Taiwanese officials.

But Xinhua News Agency, the Chinese government mouthpiece, said the five were part of a large group of 40 fraud suspects returned to face their fate.

Beijing claimed the deportees were linked to fraud cases worth at least $600,000 and were first arrested by Kenyan police before they were expelled. Earlier in April another group of around 45 Taiwanese citizens were removed from Kenya by mainland Chinese police.

China's Foreign Affairs spokesman, Lu Kang, said the move showed that Kenya supported Beijing's claim to Taiwan.

"The one China policy is an important precondition for bilateral relations with China and other countries. We commend Kenya for implementing this policy," he said.

There is no Taiwanese embassy in Kenya, the nearest is in South Africa, and Taiwan has no diplomatic ties with Kenya.

But countries around the world are also caught up in this diplomatic challenge, including Canada. Canada and China don't have formal extradition agreements, but it has handed over more than 1 300 people to China over the past three years, according to the Canadian Border Services Agency.

Afghanistan is also under pressure to return ethnic Uyghur citizens who fled persecution in west China. Many have fled from the government's crackdown on Muslims in Xinjiang, which includes a ban on fasting and wearing veils.

Amnesty International reports the Chinese government has exerted diplomatic pressure on Thailand and Turkey to repatriate Uyghurs.

The picture is mixed in the US, with Washington refusing to hand over some deportees and, in other cases, releasing criminals back onto the streets, according to reports in the Washington Times.

By mid-2016 there were 1,900 people awaiting deportation back to China, according the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

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